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Full text of "Extracts from the diary of Dr. Mason Fitch Cogswell;"

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YALE 
MEDICAL LIBRARY 




HISTORICAL LIBRARY 

The Gift of 

MISS CARMALT 



EXTRACTS FROM THE DIARY OF DR. MASON 
FITCH COGSWELL. 



COMPILED FROM ANNOTATIONS OF REV. DR. LEONARD BACON 



BY ELLEN STRONG BARTLETT. 



IT is to that inexplicable magic of events 
that sometimes baffles us, that the fol- 
lowing precious and interesting manu- 
script owes its restoration to the land of 
its origin. 

Written in 1787, by the Dr. Cogswell, 
who atterwards achieved such a position 
in Hartford, and was, through his daughter 
so intimately connected with the estab- 
lishment of instruction for the Deaf and 
Dumb, it gives the pleasant incidents of 
a horseback journey among those noble 
old Connecticut families, whose names 
are still cherished among us. These way- 
side notes were evidently written for the 
pleasure of personal recollection and with 
no thought of the public or the future. 

Oblivion has fallen on their travels and 
their hiding-places for the following 
seventy years ; but no mystery of the 
concealment of those yellow pages could 
be more remarkable than the place and 
circumstances of their discovery and res- 
toration, for they were found among 
absolute strangers in a southern state, and 
were returned to the very family connec- 
tion therein described. It was thus : 

Of the three sons of the Rev. Dr. 

Leonard Bacon, who were in our army 

during the Civil War, two were at the 

siege and capture of Richmond. One of 

S3-* 



PART I. 

them was afterwards instrumental in 
returning to a southerner a certain record 
book which was desired. In the course 
of the acknowledgments of the courtesy, in 
the shape of newspapers, historical pam- 
phlets, etc. sent to Dr. Bacon there 
appeared a soiled and torn manuscript, 
which it was suggested might be of " local 
interest to Connecticut people !" But 
the strangest part of the story is that the 
diary was found among the papers of an 
old Presbyterian divine, the Rev. John D. 
Blair, who preached with acceptance for 
years in Richmond. A singular arrange- 
ment existed, whereby he and an Epis- 
copal minister used the same hall of the 
House of Delegates, for religious services 
on alternate Sundays. 

He was born in Pennsylvania, of Scotch- 
Irish parentage, and was educated in 
Pennsylvania, acquiring " doubtless " an 
orthodox prejudice against New England 
Divinity and an old-time Pennsylvanian 
dislike of Yankees generally. To quote 
Dr. Bacon, " It was among the papers of 
this Scotch-Irish Presbyterian minister, 
born and educated in Western Pennsyl- 
vania and domiciled for more than thirty 
years or more in Virginia, that our manu- 
script was found. How it came there is 
a mystery, for Mr. Blair is in no way 



DR. MASON FITCH COGSWELL. 



533 



related to Connecticut or to New England. 
How it happened to remain there — why 
it was not taken for waste paper — why it 
did not go as a minister's old sermons 
ordinarily go after his decease is another 
mystery. 

" The first leaf (if no more) is missing ; 
and at the top of what I suppose to have 
been the third page, we find the diarist 
recording that he ' went to bed and slept 
luxuriously after supping plenteously on 
sweetmeats and cream pompion pie and 
br.dal kisses.' Evidently he had been at 
a wedding. Then comes a date, 'Friday, 
14th,' with no mention of the month or 
year, but with the record, ' slept late in 
1 he morning on account of the wedding, 
made several morning calls — wished the 
bride more joy — got my horse shod and 
set out for Norwalk, where I made a 
cousinly visit and ate, drank and slept 
for nothing. In the evening called 

on Miss C n, who treated me with 

friendly attention, unaffected smiles and 
sprightly wine — the last she gave with a 
good will'." 

The next day ("Saturday, 15th") we 
find him setting out early in the morning. 
•' Rode to Greenfield," he says, "and break- 
fasted with Mr. Dwight." This was the 
Rev. Timothy Dwight of Greenfield, 
Conn., who was a grandson of Jonathan 
Edwards and who was from 1795 to 181 7 
the light and the pride of New Haven. 

The diary goes on : " Staid much 
longer than I intended to. I however 
forgave myself very readily when I con- 
sidered the cause of the detention." Dr. 
Bacon explains that " the pastor of Green- 
field Hill was like Coleridge's Ancient 
Mariner in the power of fascinating even 
a wedding guest and holding him fast." 
Our wedding guest (for so we may call 
him) escaped in time to dine at Stratford 
where he seems to have had friends, but 
found nobody at home, and thence he 



pushed on to New Haven. He makes 
no mention of the ferry across the Housa- 
tonic, but evidently the day was far spent 
before he was on the Milford side of the 
river. "The last part of the ride," he 
says, " was solitary, as it was in the even- 
ing, but it was better calculated for 
reflection. I was drawing nigh to the 
seat of my former pleasures, the recollec- 
tion of a thousand happy circumstances 
crowded round my heart and awakened 
some of its choicest emotions. In this 
way was the gloom of the evening for- 
gotten, and the tediousness of ten long 
miles entirely lost." In this sentimental 
mood he arrives at New Haven, an hour 
perhaps after the Saturday sunset. " Un- 
willing to sit down and spend the 
remainder of the evening with strangers, 
grog- bruisers, etc.," he says, "I immedi- 
ately went in pursuit of my old friend 
Leander, but he was, unfortunately for 
me, out of town on a tour of duty. Not 
satisfied with a single attempt, I repaired 

to Mr H s, and the very friendly 

reception I met with from everyone 
secured me as a guest. My portmanteau 
was sent for and I was made as happy as 
I wished to be. After answering all 
the questions that were asked me in as 
satisfactory a manner as I could, I retired 
to my couch and slept in peace." 

Dr. Bacon fails to find a clue for 
" Leander," but he feels sure that Mr. 

H was " Captain " James Hillhouse, 

then living at the head of Temple Street. 
Though still a young man, he was already 
eminent among his fellow citizens, and 
his house was always a center of hospitality. 
It was there, we may believe, that our 
traveler was sleeping that Saturday night. 

His next day's record begins thus : 
" Sunday 30th. Attended Divine service 
in the forenoon at the Brick, and heard a 
solid discourse from Dr. Dana ; in the 
afternoon, my old place of worship, the 



534 



DR. MASON FITCH COGSWELL. 



Chapel, was honored with my presence, 
where I was highly entertained with a ser- 
mon from Dr. Edwards, from these words : 
' In the day thou eatest thereof thou shalt 
surely die.' The discourse was accom- 
panied with good music." Thus far the 
diary has given us no mention of the 
month in which it was written, but looking 
forward for dates, we find that " Sunday, 
30th " is followed by " Monday, Dec. 1st." 
Dr. Bacon took the trouble to examine 
the diary of President Stiles in the College 
Library, and was rewarded by finding 
therein that on Nov. r6, 1788, Mr. 
Morse, who had been called to the church 
in Charlestown, Mass., preached in the 
forenoon in the College Chapel, and that 
in the afternoon Dr. Edwards, pastor of 
the White Haven Church in the Blue 
Meeting-house exchanging pulpits with 
Dr. Wales, Professor of Divinity in Yale 
College, preached in the afternoon from 
Gen. II, r7, 'In the day that thou eatest 
thereof thou shalt surely die.' If a ser- 
mon from Jonathan Edwards could be 
familiarly described as "highly entertain- 
ing," what must have been the " solid 
discourse " of Dr. Dana? 

So the question of month and year is 
settled and a search in the town records 
of Stamford shows that on the thirteenth 
of November, 17 88, David Holley and 
Martha Coggeshall were married by Col. 
Abraham Davenpoit ; and thus the 
imagination may supply the missing begin- 
ning of the diary. Dr. Bacon goes on 
with the account : " Our traveler spent 
the evening at Dr. Stiles'," whose house 
(his official residence) was on the spot 
now covered by the College Street Church. 
He had a pleasant time that Sunday even- 
ing. His record is, ' The ladies are the 
same as when I was last at New Haven, 
Amelia somewhat indisposed and con- 
sequently deprived of a part of her 
volubility. She was quite as agreeable, 



however as she used to be. The circum- 
stance of meeting Messrs. Fitch and 
Morse added considerably to the pleasures 
of the evening.' " 

This " Mr. Morse " was no other than 
the " Father of American Geography," 
(edidiah Morse, the father also of the 
inventor of the telegraph and " Mr. Fitch" 
was then one of the college tutors, and 
was afterwards the first president of 
Williams College. 

Dr. Bacon goes on : " We are becom- 
ing acquainted with the writer of this 
dingy manuscript, though as yet we have 
no indication of what his name was. He 
employed himself the next day, Monday, 
17th, in visiting old friends, feeling 
happy himself and endeavoring to make 
others so." Evidently there was sunshine 
in his face all day ; and his diary tells us 
how the day ended. 'In the evening 
joined a party of about twenty couples at 
Mr. Mix's and danced till about twelve.' 
At Mr. Mix's, where was that? The 
house remains to this day >n good condi- 
tion, though of course not without some 
changes internal and external. Through 
a series of years it was my own ' hired 
house ; ' and to this day I never pass by it 
without a tender remembrance of those 
busy, anxious and happy years." 

"It is on Elm Street, next below the 
first Methodist Church. Devout old 
ladies venerable as the ' elect lady ' to 
whom — as the Apostle John addressed 
one of his Epistles — have told me how 
they, in the ' auld lang syne ' have danced 
in the ballroom there, which was at the 
eastern side of the house, on the second 
floor, and which in my day had been 
divided into two apartments. But where 
are the ' twenty couple ' who met there? 

"'To chase the flying hours with glow- 
ing feet,' Nov. 17, 1788. They seem to 
have had a lively time. Our genial friend 
records his own enjoyment of the evening : 



DR. MASON FITCH COGSWELL. 



535 



' I was never in a room before with so 
many good dancers, not an indifferent 

dancer in the room. Miss S s, B s, 

B w, and E s were alternately 

honored with my hand. I did my best to 
persuade them that I was a good partner. 
I retired to my couch with comfortable 
reflections and a good appetite for sleep.' 

" Can we make out the four names which 
are indicated by initial and final letters? 

Miss 3 s is evidently Miss Stiles, a 

daughter of the president. Miss B s 

is probably Miss Beers, but I cannot iden- 
tify her. Miss B w was perhaps a 

stranger. Miss E s is Miss Edwards. 

I knew her when her dancing days were 
over, and when the beauty of )outh had 
become the dignity of an honored matron. 
She was Mrs. Johnson of Stratford, the 
elder sister of the late venerable Mrs. 
Whitney. Herself a granddaughter of 
the world-famous theologian, Jonathan 
Edwards, who died president of a Presby- 
terian college at Princeton, her husband 
was a grandson of Samuel Johnson, the 
founder of the Episcopal Church in Con- 
necticut, and president of King's, (now 
Columbia) College in New York. Her- 
self the daughter of the brilliant laywer, 
Pierpont Edwards, her husband was the 
son of a more illustrious laywer, William 
Samuel Johnson. 

"The next day, 'Tuesday, 18th,' our 
traveler records that he ' breakfasted with 
Samuel Broome, was treated with hospi- 
tality by the whole family, and set out to 
Hartford with him. ' The Triennial 
Catalogue of Yale College shows that 
Samuel Piatt Broome graduated A. B. in 
the class of 1786 : that he was admitted 
to the same degree in the college at 
Princeton the same year, and that he died 
in 181 r. At the date then, of the journal 
before us, he was a graduate of two years 
standing ; and we may be sure that there 
was not in New Haven a young man 



whose prospects in relation to wealth were 
so brilliant as his. For a considerable 
period, the firm of Broome & Piatt was 
more conspicuous in the commerce of 
New Haven than any other. The two 
partners lived near each other in what we 
call East Water Street, where one of their 
dwellings remains to this day, and in 
those two houses there was probably 
more of the luxury and display of wealth, 
more of ' dash ' and ' fashion ' than 
anywhere else this side of New York. 
There was between the two families some 
alliance by marriage, and Mrs. Piatt, 
whether daughter or sister of Mr. Broome, 
was celebrated for her beauty. She was 
said to be the most beautiful woman in 
America; and if that was so she was cer- 
tainly the most beautiful in the world. 

I; Eoth families have passed away from 
New Haven, and their memory is passing 
away. The last survivor there was a 
grand-daughter of Mr. Piatt who died in 
i860. She had lived for years in a very 
humble dwelling at the corner of Crown 
and Temple Streets, and as her old age 
had been sustained and cheered by the 
christian brotherly kindness of the church 
in which she was a member, she be- 
queathed to that church for its poor 
members the little remnant of her worldly 
goods — the last of the wealth of the 
great house of Broome and Piatt. 

" Samuel Piatt Broome, no doubt, 
figured at the dancing party of Monday 
evening, November 17, 1788; and there 
(we may suppose) having learned that 
our traveler was going to Hartford the 
next day, he offered to go with him, and 
invited him to breakfast. 

"Accordingly, our friend, for so we may 
call him, having packed his portmanteau 
and thrown it over his saddle, takes leave 
of Mr. Hillhouse's hospitable family, 
rides to Mr. Broome's mansion, enjoys a 
sumptuous breakfast, and the two fellow- 



536 



DR. MASON FITCH COGSWELL. 



travelers, instead of taking seats (as we 
do) in a railway carriage, mount their 
horses and set out for Hartford. The 
road in those days ( for neither the 
' Hartford turnpike,' through Meriden, 
nor the ' Middletown turnpike ' through 
Northford, had come into existence) was 
by Cedar Hill to North Haven and thence 
to Wallingford, where they halted for the 
night. The next day they breakfasted at 
Durham, dined at Middletown, and about 
sunset arrived at Hartford. 

" There, if I may continue to mix up 
my personal recollections with my com- 
mentary on the journal, they were on 
ground with which I began to be familiar 
about twenty-four years later, and there 
was my wife's birthplace. We were 
therefore curious to know just where our 
friend would go in Hartford. The next 
words of the diaiy told us." 

"As soon as our horses were attended 
to we repaired to Col. Wadsworth's, 
Broome with his compliments, and I with 
my letters." 

" ' Col. Wadsworth's ! ' We knew very 
well where that was, for my wife's mother, 
then a young lady of fifteen years, was 
Col. Wadsworth's youngest daughter, and 
to my wile herself in her childhood that 
house was as familiar as our own house is 
today. 

" Col. Wadsworth's house was on the 
spot where the Wadsworth Athenaeum now 
stands. It was the house in which he 
was born, and in which his father had 
lived and died — the Rev. Daniel Wads- 
worth who was pastor of the first church 
in Hartford, from 1732 to 1747. In his 
boyhood, he was apprenticed by his 
widowed mother, to Matthew Talcott, of 
Middletown, who was her brother, and 
to whom she felt that she could safely 
entrust the bringing up of her only son to 
the business of a merchant. Young 
Jeremiah Wadsworth learned that busi- 



ness well. He became a prosperous 
merchant in Middletown, trading largely 
with the West India Islands. Living 
with his uncle, whose wife was a daughter 
of Rev. William Russell and a grand- 
daughter of Rev. James Pierpont, he 
married the younger sister of Mrs. Tal- 
cott, Mehitable, (otherwise called Mabel 
Russell) and Middletown continued to 
be his home till after the beginning of the 
war for Independence. In 1 777, he remov- 
ed his family to the old homestead, and in 
that house in which his children were born 
his children were brought up. 

" By reason of his extraordinary ability 
as a business man, he became Commissary- 
General of the Continental Army, and 
afterwards Commissary- General, in effect, 
of the French auxiliary army. In the 
last mentioned employment he con- 
tinued till the end of the war; and 
thus instead of being beggared, as so 
many Revolutionary officers were by 
the bankruptcy of the Continental 
treasury, he found himself wealthy, per- 
haps the wealthiest man in Connecticut, 
for as having been the purchaser of 
supplies he had accounts to settle with a 
goverment that could pay. 

" The relation of Colonel Wadsworth to 
those armies made his house on one 
occasion the scene of a memorable inter- 
view. In the summer of 1780, Washing- 
ton, whose headquarters were on the 
Hudson, proposed to the Count de 
Rochambeau, then at Newport in com- 
mand of the recently arrived French 
army, an attack on New York. Letters 
were sent to the French Admiral in the 
West Indies with a request for naval 
assistance from that quarter. 

" Meanwhile a conference between 
Washington and the commanders of the 
welcome but as yet useless French fleet 
and army was necessary. Just then it was 
that Benedict Arnold, who had been en- 



INDIAN PIPE. 



537 



trusted with the command of the fortress 
at West Point, attempted to consummate 
his crime. On Thursday, the fourteenth 
of September, 1780, Washington wrote 
from his headquarters to Arnold at West 
Point, ' I shall be at Peekskill on Sunday 
evening, on my way to Hartford to meet 
the French Admiral and General. You 
will be pleased to send down a gaurd of a 
captain and fifty men at that time and 
direct the quartermaster to have a night's 
forage for about forty horses. You will 
keep this to yourself as I wish to make 
my journey a secret.' Arnold was already 
in correspondence with Sir Henry Clinton 
at New York and he saw that the time 
had come to attempt the execution of his 
design. Washington began his journey 
on Monday, Sept. 18, and in his company 
were LaFayette, Knox and Hamilton. 
They could hardly have arrived at Hart- 
ford before Wednesday, September 20. 
On their arrival in Hartford, they were 
received with military honors, the Gover- 
nor's Guards and a company of artillery 
being on duty. Governor Trumbull, Col. 
Wadsworth and other distinguished men 
met the great commander-in-chief and 
conducted him to the house of Col. Wads- 
worth. The French General, Count de 
Rochambeau and the French Admiral, 
the Chevalier de Ternay with their suite, 
arrived soon afterwards and were received 
with appropriate honors at their landing, 
and then the consultation was held at the 
house of Col. Wadsworth and from that 



house, after a day of anxious conference, 
Washington set out on his return to the 
Highlands, where during his brief absence, 
Arnold's great treason had been exposed 
and baffled. 

" This was only eight years and two 
months before the evening in which 
Samuel Broome and our friend, who is as 
yet nameless, called at the same door, the 
one with his compliments, the other with 
his letters of introduction. 

" ' We,' says our friend, ' were rather in 
our dishabilles, but 'twas no matter, we 
were travelers, and they were none of 
them in the habit of regarding a powdered 
head and a pretty coat as the standard of 
excellency — their tastes are formed upon 
better principles. After delivering our 
compliments and letters, we were about 
leaving them, but were prevented by their 
importunities to stay and spend the even- 
ing. We needed but little coaxing, we 
laid aside our hats and our whips and 
resolved to stay as long as they wanted 
us. The beautiful Miss H ns, (Hop- 
kins) the handsome Miss S r, (Sey- 
mour), and the pretty Miss B 11, (Bull), 

were of our party. Music, dancing and 
sociality constituted our amusements. 

Miss B 11 sang ' The Hermit ' sweetly. 

I wished to accompany her with a flute, 
but I dared not tell them so. The bell 
rung much earlier than I wished and I 
left them when I would willingly have 
staid longer.' " 

( To be Continued.} 



INDIAN PIPE. 



ELIZABETH ALDEN CURTIS. 



Strange, waxen flower, thy down-bended 
blooms, — 

Half hid 'neath fragrant droppings from 
you pine 

Up-reared so gaunt and barren, — in de- 
cline 

Of vulgar notice haunt the forest glooms ; 

And here, close clustered, guard their 
faint perfumes, 

Through the long summer, where the slant 
suns shine. 



It was not skill, but happy chance, made 

mine 
To catch the glister of thy crisp-curled 

plumes ! 
What place, mysterious flower, dost thou 

hold 
In this strange-fashioned earth's economy ? 
For-time, men plucked thee as a remedy 
'Gainst lesser hurts of body manifold, — 
Truly of mind as well, be-seemeth me. 
Being over beautiful and nothing bold ! 



EdKEM,®^ 



GENEALOGICAL DEPARTMENT. 



Querists are requested to write all names of persons and places so that they cannot 
be misunderstood, to write on only one side of the paper, to enclose a self-ad dressed, 
stamped envelope, and ten cents in stamps for each query. Those who are subscribers 
will be given preference in the insertion of their queries and they will be inserted in the 
order in which they are received. All matters relating to this department must be sent 
to The Connecticut Magazine, Hartford, marked Genealogical Department Give 
full name and post office address. 

It is optional with querist to have name and address or initials published. 



67. (a), — The widow of Isaac Royce 
was Elizabeth, dau. of Samuel and 
Elizabeth (Scudder) Lothrop. (Old 
Houses of Norwich, page 505), but she 
was not the Elizabeth " Roys " who m. 
Ebenezer Clark, Dec. 22, 1696. She 
m. 2nd Joseph Thompson and died 
before June 11, 1690. (New Haven 
County Court Records, Vol. I, p. 178.) 
The wife of Ebenezer Clark was Eliza- 
beth, widow of Joseph Royce, son of 
Samuel, (New Haven County Court 
Records, Vol. I, pp. 234 and 256). 
She was the dau. of John and Hannah 
(Bassett) Parker. (Davis' History, 
Wallingford.) Ebenezer Clark died 
April 30, 1721 and his widow Elizabeth 
m. 3 Nathaniel Andrews, Oct. 6, 1721, 
(Wallingford Town Records and Vol. 
V New Haven Probate Records.) (s) 
James Steele m. " Bethyah " Bishop, 
Oct. 18, 1651. (Guilford Town Rec- 
ords, Dr. Alvin Talcott's ms. genealogy 
of Guilford Families and Savage's Gen- 
eral Dictionary under "Bishop.") She 
was the dau. of John and Anne Bishop 
of Guilford as shown by Talcott and 
Savage above cited and by the will of 
538 



Anne Bishop, widow of John as 
recorded in the Hartford Probate 
Records. She was one of the original 
members of the Second Church at 
Hartford and her name appears on 
Mrs. Smith's memorial to the original 
sisters of that church. Frank Barnard 
King of Albany, N. Y., is now preparing 
a revised edition of the Steele family. 
James Shepard, 

New Britain, Conn. 

97 — Mary, wife of Lieut. Miles Meiwin 
was dau. of Hezekiah Talcott, and 
Jemima, his wife. Mary was born in 
Durham, Feb. 16, 1723; d. Jan. 18, 
1793 Hezekiah Talcott moved from 
Hartford to Durham. He died in Dur- 
ham, Feb. 13, 1764, in his 70th year. 
Jemima d. Feb. 2, 1757 in her 66th 
year. A. M. Camp. 

83. — Mrs. Henry Walters of New Britain 
or Waterbury, Conn., has data concern- 
ing the Gladding family. 

86. (b). — Eber Merriman married (2) 
Hannah Rogers. Eber was son of 
Rev. John and Jemima (Wilcox) 
Merriman. Rev. John was son of John 
and Elizabeth (Peck). John was son 
of Nathaniel and Hannah (Lines). 



EXTRACTS FROM THE DIARY OF DR. MASON 
FITCH COGSWELL. 



COMPILED FROM ANNOTATIONS OF REV. DR. LEONARD BACON. 



BY ELLEN STRONG BARTLETT. 



Continued from October Number. 

t i r I '"HE bell referred to was the nine 
1 o'clock bell, the old New Eng- 
land curfew, after which it was hardly 
good manners to prolong an evening call. 
"Under date of 'Thursday, 20th,' the 
diarist records that, after breakfasting at 
his lodgings, he ' sat half an hour under 
the hands of the frisieur before going out 
to deliver his letters.' He seems to have 
been a stranger in Hartford and desirous 
of making a favorable impression. So we 
see him with his head nicely powdered 
and his queue newly tied in a black rib- 
bon, walking along Main Street, for in 
those days few Hartford people of mark 
and fashion lived on any other street. He 
' called on Mr. Strong and was much 
disappointed in not seeing Mrs. Strong.' 
' My feelings,' he adds, ' were prepared 
to meet an old friend, and to have them 
so suddenly checked by the information 
that she was so indisposed as to render 
her recovery doubtful was painful.' In 
November, 1788, Nathan Strong, (after- 
ward Dr. Strong) had been for nearly 
fifteen years pastor of the First Church in 
Hartford, and was already one of the first 
men in Connecticut — the peer of Dr. 
Dwight, as he had been his college class- 
mate. His ministry of forty-one years 
562 



PART II. 

was terminated by his death, Dec. 25, 
1818. I well remember the sensation 
which his death produced and how that 
sensation was renewed and deepened by the 
death of President Dwight a few days 
later. Mrs. Strong was Anna McCurdy 
of Lyme. She had been married less 
than two years, and her life (as the diary 
intimates) was then coming to its close. 

" Mr. Strong's house was the next door 
to Col. VVadsworth's, and there it seems 
our traveler had been invited to dine. I 
will venture to transcribe the record. 'We 
were soon seated at the table ; our com- 
pany consisted of Mr. and Mrs. Wadsworth, 
Miss St. John, Misses Harriet and Caty, 
Messrs. D. Wadsworth, Samuel Broome, 
and myself. We were all cheerful ; how 
could we be otherwise when the heads of 
the table were peculiarly so— her counte- 
nance as placid as a summer eve, and his 
full of benignity, equally expressive of the 
goodness of his heart and the greatness of 
his soul. After dinner, the ladies retired 
to dress for a visit to Miss Bull, except 
Miss St. John, who was indisposed with a 

toothache. W , B , and myself, 

amused ourselves in the parlor with music 
until tea-time, when we followed the 
ladies. I was pleased with Miss Bull 
yesterday, but more so to-day. I trow she 



DR. MASON FITCH COGSWELL. 



563 



is a good girl. Immediately after tea we 
returned to Colonel Wadsvvorth's and 
spent the evening in a manner that was to 
me delightfully instructive. A circle of 
only five, we did not wish it enlarged. 
Not a single individual interrupted our 
converse until ten o'clock. Our subjects 
of conversation were various ; we ran 
counter to all the rules of modern polite- 
ness ; we did not, to my recollection, say 
a word about fashions or plays and such 
like matters, nor did we scandalize a 
single character through the whole course 
of the evening, but we acted in direct 
agreement with our feelings.' 

"After describing, in a somewhat effusive 
way, the course and character of their talk, 
the writer portrays the interlocutors in the 
dialogue. ' Harriet has read a good deal 
and has reflected a good deal on what 
she has read. Hence she has many 
observations of her own, not eccentric, 
but pleasingly original. She has one of 
the happiest tempers in the world, and 
delights in making those happy who are 
around her. She speaks highly of many 
and ill of none. Add to these a happy 
talent of adapting her conversation to the 
company she is in, and it is not strange 
that she should be thought an agreeable 
girl. Although she is not a beauty, yet 
her countenance is beautifully expressive.' 

" We will pause a moment before this 
pen-portrait. 

"Among the Trumbull pictures in the 
Yale School of the Fine Arts, there are 
five miniatures of ladies in one frame, No. 
22. The date is 1791, three years later 
than the date of this journal. The first of 
the five is Harriet Wadsworth, and the 
painter has made 'her countenance,' I 
will not say an ideal beauty, but beautiful 
as well as ' beautifully expressive.' Per- 
haps affection added something of poetry 
to the likeness, for the family tradition is 
that the painter was her lover. 



"A monument in the parish church-yard 
of St. George, on the Island of Bermuda, 
bears this inscription : 

To The 

MEMORY 

of 

HARRIET WADSWORTH 

of Hartford, Con., U. S. A. 

Who died in this Island, 

Of a Consumption, 

April 10, 1793, 

Aged 24 

Years. 

" In that lively and happy company at 
Col. Wadsvvorth's, Thursday evening, 
November 20, 1788, there was no thought 
of such a record to be made so soon. 

" We return to our admiring friend's 
pen-portraits of the company. ' Caty is 
her younger sister, with a face as indica- 
tive of a good heart as a lamb's is of its 
meekness. She seems to possess all the 
virtues of her sister, but they are of a 
younger growth. 

' She wants a little of that grace which 
enables Harriet to do everything to 
advantage ; and a few more years will 
probably add to the list of her agreeables.' 

"Here we pause again: — Catherine 
Wadsworth was at that time not quite 
fifteen years old. Her miniature is one of 
the five which I have mentioned, being 
directly under her sisters ; and it shows 
that when she was in her eighteenth year, 
her face, still indicative of a good heart 
was in the full bloom of beauty ; and on 
the wall of an apartment in my house is a 
portrait (copied from the original by 
Sully) which shows what she was when ' a 
few more years,' without effacing the 
glow of maiden beauty, had blended with 
it the charm of matronly dignity and 
grace. 

" I proceed with our friend's record of 
his impressions : — 'As for Daniel, he is a 





•/« 




*y4\ 





FROM OIL MINIATURES, PAINTED BY JOHN TRUMBULL, NOW IN THE TRUMBULL 
GALLERY, YALE ART SCHOOL, NEW HAVEN, CONN. 



Harriet Wadsworte, 

Daughter of 

Colonel Jeremiah Wadsworth. 



Faith Trumbull. 
Daughter of Jonathan Trumbull and 
wife of Daniel Wadsworth. 



Mrs. Jonathan Trumbull. 



Catherine Wadsworth. 

Daughter of Colonel Jeremiah Wadsworth 

and wife of General Nathaniel Terry. 

564 



Mary Julia Seymour. 

Daughter of Thomas Seymour, the first 

Mayor of Hartford. 



DR. MASON FITCH COGSWELL. 



565 



strange youth. With his pockets full of 
money, he had rather, at any time, sit 
down at home betwixt his two sisters and 
by some new act of tenderness call forth 
their affection toward him, than to be in 
the best and most fashionable company 
(best and fashionable underscored as 
'wrote sarkastic') at the gaming table, 
or in any place where he can spend his 
money in an honorable and polite way. 
(Honorable and polite again ' wrote sar- 
kastic'). Tis true as it is strange; and 
furthermore he is warmly attached to the 
principles of virtue and morality, and 
really he is not ashamed of his God.' 

"This 'strange youth' was so eccentric 
through a long life, and his family affec- 
tions though he was childless, were so 
strong that in his old age he took the 
lead in building upon the site of what had 
been his father's and grandfather's home, 
the Wadsworth Atheneum, devoted to 
public uses, one part of it to the Con- 
necticut Historical Society, another part 
to the Hartford Young Men's Institute, 
and another part to a Gallery of Paintings. 
It is his filial tribute to the memory of his 
ancestors, who were identified with Hart- 
ford from its beginning and designed as 
their monument. It is his also. I think 
I may say of the many who have inherited 
or are to inherit the remainder of his wealth 
there is not one who regrets that princely 
gift to Hartford or is not proud of it. 
Nor can I refuse to say of that ' strange 
youth ' who loved his home so well, that 
the tender affection for his sisters which 
is portrayed in what I have just been 
telling, lived in him to the last. Though 
he survived for more than fifty years that 
elder sister whose decay and death he 
watched in lone Bermuda, he never seemed 
to lose the freshness of his grief. 

" Having interpolated so much about 
the Wadsworth family, I will add before 
returning to our friend's description of 



that evening's pleasure, that Colonel 
Wadsworth, having served as Representa- 
tive in Congress for three successive terms, 
from the organization of the government 
in 1789, died in 1804 of premature decay 
the result of hardships and exposures in 
the war for independence. Madame 
Wadsworth lived to extreme old age 
and died in 1817. I saw her buried by 
the side of her husband, her grave being 
the last save one (or possibly two), that 
was made in the old burial-ground behind 
the Center Church. As I stood there 
among the spectators that had been drawn 
together by the unwonted sight of a burial 
in that old place, I little thought that 
children of mine would trace their descent 
through her from James Pierpont and 
Thomas Hooker. 

" Returning now from this digression, 
and resuming our friend's description of 
the pleasant company that evening at 
Col. Wadsworth's, we are reminded that 
New Haven had a representative there in 
the person of ' Sam'l Broome.' Him 
the writer describes as ' a lad of good 
sense but rather trifling at times,' and 
then says, ' he possesses a talent at pun- 
ning, and by occasionally throwing in a 
remark he prevented us from becoming 
too seriously sentimental.' So we may 
congratulate ourselves that New Haven 
did really, though indirectly, contribute 
something towards completing and round- 
ing out the enjoyment of the occasion. 
Even a trifler and a punster may some- 
times be of use when the conversation is 
growing thoughtful and is in danger of 
becoming too serious or too 'sentimental.' 

"At a reasonable hour our friend re- 
paired to his lodgings, but he did not re- 
sign himself to sleep till he had read from 
" Elegant Extracts," (a volume which I 
remember, though it is obsolete now) 
several pathetic and descriptive pieces 
which the ladies had commended to his 



566 



DR. MASON FITCH COGSWELL. 



notice, and on which his critical judgment 
coincided with theirs. 

"The next morning, ' Friday, 21st,' we 
find him immediately after breakfast 
mounting his ' Rosinante' and 'setting his 
face westward ' with letters and whatever 
else he had 'for the name of Talcott.' He 
went out to the Talcott ' family mansion 
on the hill,' beyond where the American 
Asylum for the Deaf and Dumb now is. 
Approaching the house he was met by a 
' venerable old gentleman,' to whom he 
introduced himself as bringing ' letters 
from New York,' which, by the way, is the 
first intimation we have had of where he 
came from. The 'family mansion' was 
at that time held by a son of Gov. Tal- 
cott, Chief Magistrate of His Majesty's 
Colony of Connecticut from 1724 to his 
death in 1741, a period of seventeen 
years. A sister of his was the mother of 
Col. Wadsworth. Austin Talcott, Attor- 
ney General of the state of New York, 
one of the most brilliant names in the 
legal profession of that great state was 
his grandson. In the conversation which 
ensues after our traveler has entered the 
house and in which there is a hardly per- 
ceptible flavor of the medical profession, 
it comes out that his name is Cogswell 
and at last we know beyond a peradventure 
who he is. 

" Mason Fitch Cogswell was a graduate 
of Yale Ci. liege in the class of 1780, and 
was honored as the foremost in that class. 
The war for independence was then in 
progress, and he immediately began the 
study and I may say the practice of med- 
icine and surgery under an elder brother, 
who was a surgeon in the army. He was 
stationed for a time in Stamford, where 
his brother had married into the Daven- 
port family, and where he was at home in 
families of the highest position and cul- 
ture. After the war, he resided, I know 
not how long, in New York ; and he seems 



now to be making a journey from New 
York to keep Thanksgiving at his father's 
house. 

" His father was the Rev. James Cogs- 
well, who had been from 1744 to 1771 
the pastor of the church in Canterbury, 
but for the last six years had been pastor 
in Scotland, a parish of Windham. His 
mother was Alice Fitch, of the great 
Fitch family in eastern Connecticut, and 
her mother was a descendant from the 
famous hero of the Pequot War, John 
Mason. Thus it came to pass that his 
name was Mason Fitch Cogswell. At the 
date of this journal he was apparently 
making his first acquaintance with Hart- 
ford and in that day's ride to the Talcott 
mansion, he had passed — unconscious of 
the future — the site now occupied by a 
great institution which had its origin from 
the calamity of the daughter to whom he 
gave his mother's name, Alice Cogswell. 

"Having accompanied him thus leisure- 
ly from Stamford to Hartford, we must 
hasten through the remainder of his 
journey. The next day, ' Saturday, 22nd.' 
he was ferried across the Connecticut at 
an early hour and arrived at his father's 
house in the evening. 

" ' The tear of pleasure glittered ' in that 
father's eye as he embraced his son. For 
'Sunday 21st,' the record opens, 'At- 
tended divine service and was delighted 
both with the preaching and the music. 
My feelings before I entered the house, 
were attuned to harmony and the music 
which was uncommonly good, striking 
upon the already vibrating cords, pre- 
pared me in the best possible manner for 
the ensuing discourse from ' My son, keep 
thyself pure.' The filial hearer (evidently) 
confounded with the text the application 
of it which he made to himself and which 
he knew was in his father's thoughts. The 
text was from I. Tim. vi., 22: 'Keep 
thyself pure,' said the apostle to the 



DR. MASON FITCH COGSWELL. 



567 



young preacher, but he did not in that 
connection say ' My son.' 

•' Monday was a stormy day ; and our 
traveler was all day at home. Tuesday 
he visited some old friends. Wednesday 
was stormy again and cold ; and he spent 
most of the day with his father who was 
indisposed. But ' in the evening as a 
prelude to Thanksgiving'— so the journal 
tells us, — ' I went up and drank a mug of 
flip with Esq. Devotion and ate pompion 
pie with his wife, ' Then as he writes, he 
adds the explanation, ' How cold it grows ! 
I am too dull to write in my journal — Per- 
haps the flip has run round my intellects, 
or, what is worse, the pompion pie.' 

" I will abbreviate, as much as I can, his 
partly humorous record of Thanksgiving 
day, 'Thursday 27th.' The duties of the 
day had been to him such as he had never 
encountered before. His father, being 
too ill to officiate in the Thanksgiving 
service, devolved on him the duty of 
reading to the congregation an appropriate 
discourse or as he called it, 'preaching.' 
His desire to please a ' beloved parent ' 
overcame his diffidence ; and at the ap- 
pointed hour, with the psalm book in his 
pocket and his printed or written sermon 
in his hand, he presented himself at 
church and told the elders what their 
pastor has commissioned him to do. His 
offer was thankfully acknowledged and he 
seated himself in the minister's pew. But 
' a venerable sage ' got up and led him 
into the deacon's seat. He was invited to 
go up higher, but the thought, ' Humble 
thyself and thou shall be exalted ' kept 
him out of the too lofty pulpit. 

" He perceived that nothing would be 
done without him and being ' requested to 
proceed ' he ' pulled out his psalm book,' 
and his hand trembled but very little. 
' Let us sing ' said he, 'the 97th Psalm,' 
and he read it with a very audible voice. 
The music was fine ; it entirely dissipated 



his timidities and as soon as it ceased, he 
arose and if he had had one on, he would 
probably have stroked his band ; but as 
he had none, he wiped his face with his 
pocket handkerchief, named his text 
and went on. Some people would have 
called it reading ; but really, he acted the 
preacher to admiration, as he was after- 
wards told by numbers of the congregation. 
The exercises were closed with an anthem 
from Isaiah, ' Sing, O ye heavens, etc.,' 
which was most enchantingly sung. 'After 
church, he repaired to his friend Devo- 
tion's and was treated with quite as much 
respect and attention as he desired. He 
drank flip, ate turkeys, pigs, pompion pies, 
apple pies, tarts, etc., etc., until he was 
perfectly satisfied. After supper he went 
home, gave thanks with his father, smoked 
a pipe for company's sake, bade the old 
folks good night, went into the kitchen, 
sung a number of songs to Polly and 
Betsey (his sisters), ate apples and nuts 
with them, and went to bed well satisfied 
with the transactions of the day.' 

"It occurs to me that among the hearers 
in the Scotland meeting-house that day, 
there must have been a certain bashful 
and studious boy, ten years old, with a 
marvelous appetite for knowledge and with 
a keen and quiet observation of men and 
things who had already — two years earlier, 
picked up Latin enough to understand the 
Triennial Catalogue of Yale, and whose 
parents had been advised by Parson 
Cogswell (though they needed no persua- 
sion) to give him a liberal education. 
That boy was James L. Kingsley ; and it 
startles me to remember that in 1852 the 
venerable Professor Kingsley passed away 
from this living and dying world. 

"On 'Friday 2Sth,' our friend rides to 
Windham — dines at Maj. Backus's, where 
he finds ' pompion pies again in abun- 
dance ' — then sets out for Lebanon in 
search of a friend whom he has already 



568 



DR. MASON FITCH COGSWELL. 



mentioned more than once under the 
apparently fictitious name of ' Orlands,' 
but whom I cannot identify. He finds 
him — just where he wished to find him — 
at Mr. Porter's. There he had a delight- 
ful evening with Emily and Sophy, the 
daughters of Mr. Porter, and charming 
sister of ' Orlands,' named Eliza. That 
Mr. Porter had been Gov. Trumbull's 
confidential secretary through all the war 
and therefore we are not surprised to find 
our friend saying, ' Miss Trumbull made 
us happy an hour or so with her com- 
pany. Her person is elegant, though 
small ; here countenance agreeably ex- 
pressive and what is generally called hand- 
some. Her first appearance is much in 
her favor. I will wait till I see her again 
before I say anything more about her.' 

" Miss Trumbull was grand-daughter of 
the old war governor who had died three 
years before, and daughter of the second 
Jonathan who became governor ten years 
later. 

"The next day, 'Saturday 29th,' was 
one of those wet autumn days that intro- 
duce winter. But our friend says, ' We 
walked, or rather, waded over to Col. 
Trumbull's and sat and chatted an hour 
with him ; Mrs. Trumbull and Faithy all 
agreeable, the former peculiarly so — and 
the appearance of the latter, tho' reserved, 
such as inspires you with a desire of 
becoming intimately acquainted.' The 
miniatures of these two ladies are in the 
same group of five with the two daughters 
of Col. Wadsworth, Mrs. Trumbull in the 
center, Miss Faith Trumbull, (afterwards 
Mrs. Daniel Wadsworth) in the right hand 
upper corner. 

"There is a great deal of history con- 
nected with old Lebanon — so much that 
I dare not begin to touch upon it. Our 
traveler was hindered by the rain from 
proceeding to Norwich that day, as he 
had intended, but at an early hour the 



next morning, (Sunday, Nov. 30th,) he 
made the short ride. 'About half-past 
eight,' he says, 'I arrived at Governor 
Huntington's, my former home, and the 
manner in which I was welcomed made it 
as much so as ever. Had I been an own 
brother, Mrs. Huntington could not have 
treated me with more tenderness and 
affection, and I never before saw the 
Governor so social and conversable.' 

" Here are allusions which become in- 
telligible when we learn that Rev. James 
Cogswell's wife, Alice Fitch, died in 1772, 
soon after his settlement in Scotland — 
that in 1773 he married the widow of his 
predecessor, Mr. Devotion, when Mason 
Fitch Cogswell was twelve years old and 
that the boy was afterwards placed in the 
family of Mr. Huntington, at Norwich, 
where he was fitted for college. Samuel 
Huntington, whose name is subscribed to 
the Declaration of Independence, was 
born in that parish of Scotland. Like 
another subscriber to that Declaration, 
Roger Sherman, he made himself a great 
lawyer. In his youth he won the heart 
and hand of the Parson's comely daughter, 
Martha Devotion. So when Mrs. Hunt- 
ington's mother had become the wife of 
Mason F. Cogswell's father, they were in 
some figurative and step-sense an elder 
sister and a younger brother. 

"Our traveler's ten miles ride that Sun- 
day morning was not regarded as an 
excuse for absence from public worship. 
He ' attended divine service both A. M. 
and P. M., and heard two metaphysical 
discourses from Mr. King, and on the 
whole was well pleased with them — 
thought, however, he was a little out of 
his latitude." 

"(Rev. Walter King was pastor of the 
Second Church in Norwich (at the Land- 
ing) from 1787 to 1811. He was con- 
temporary in college with Dr. Mason F. 
Cogswell, though in a later class, 1782.) 



DR. MASON FITCH COGSWELL. 



569 



" In the evening, the Sabbath having 
ended at sunset, our friend made a call at 
Mr. Woodbridge's, where Clara and Han- 
nah were as glad to see him as he was to 
see them, and ' paid more attention to ' 
him ' than to all the other gentlemen in 
the room.' But, in recording the fact, he 
checks the temptation ,to vanity by the 
consideration, ' they see me once in three 
years, and them they see every day.' 
Returning to his lodgings at the decorous 
hour of nine, he had time to ' converse 
an hour with the Governor and his lady ' 
before retiring to rest. He remained in 
Norwich four days longer, visiting old 
friends with great enjoyment. On Mon- 
day he records that though it was a dull 
and disagreeable day, 'twas sunshine in 
the house.' 

" ' Refused several invitations to dine 
out, that I might eat turkey with the Gov- 
ernor. Thanksgiving not gone yet, for we 
had flip and pompion pies both. Drank 
several glasses of port, and was much 
pleased with several *musical anecdotes 
from the Governor.' 

"After visiting several old friends with 
much pleasure and drinking tea with 
' Clara and Hannah,' he returned 'about 
eight and the last of the evening was equal 
to the first, Sammy and Fanny,' so runs 
the record, ' have improved exceedingly 
since I last saw them, both in mind and 
manners.' He was not aware that Sammy, 
of whom, a college graduate of three years 



standing, he made mention so familiarly, 
was to be, not many years later, Chief 
Justice and then Governor of Ohio — a 
state which in that year,. 1788, had nc 
existence even as a territory under terri- 
torial government, in which the earliest 
permanent settlement had just been made 
by a pioneer emigration from New England 
and which in 1802 was received into the 
Union, the first-born of the Ordinance of 
1787. 

"The convention about which our friend 
had a chat with the Governor was doubt- 
less that which in the January preceding 
had given the ratification of Connecticut 
to the Constitution of the United States. 
Of that convention, Gov. Huntington was 
a conspicuous member ; and this reminds 
us that when the genial diarist sat there 
chatting and smoking the calumet with the 
Governor, the government of the United 
States had not come into being. Eleven 
of the thirteen states had adopted the 
Constitution ; electors of President were 
to be chosen in those eleven states on the 
first Wednesday in January ; the electors 
were to meet in their several -colleges on 
the first Wednesday in February ; and on 
the 4th of March the First Congress was 
to meet in New York. In fact, for want 
of a quorum in the two houses, the organ- 
ization of the national government was 
not completed until April 30, 1789." 
To be Concluded in next number. 



* Note. The word " Musical " here was evidently used to mean amusing. 




EXTRACTS FROM THE DIARY OF DR. MASON 
FITCH COGSWELL. 



COMPILED FROM ANNOTATIONS OF REV. DR. LEONARD BACON. 



BY ELLEN STRONG BARTLETT. 



PART 

RETURNING to the diary from which 
we have wandered, we find that on 
Tuesday our friend ' breakfasted with Gen. 
Huntington; dined at Dr. Lathrop's; 
drank tea at Mr. Andrew Huntington's ; 
and supped with William Leffingwell," re- 
turn to lodge "at the Governor's." Without 
pausing on the other names here men- 
tioned, some of them notable in history, 
we find our attention arrested by a New 
Haven name, William Leffingwell. Look- 
ing forward we read in the next day's 
record " Dined at William Leffingwell's. 
Mr. L. was my classmate at New Haven. 
We chatted about old matters with much 
pleasure. Joa. sister to William, is a smart 
girl, or I am much out of my conjectures. 
She has a pleasing countenance, an expres- 
sive eye, and possesses good manners. 
Sam'l Huntington and Dan Lathrop were 
likewise of our party. A full grown turkey, 
and more pompion pie, etc., everything in 
nice order." 

Old people remember the time when 
Mr. Leffingwell, residing in the old fash- 
ioned but stately mansion on Chapel 
street at the corner of Temple, with a 
terraced garden which extended half way 
up to College street, was regarded as the 
richest citizen of New Haven. The last 
survivor of his immediate family was Dr. 
606 



111. 

Edward H. Leffingwell. One of his 
daughters, Caroline Mary, was the wife of 
Augustus Russell Street ; and the memory 
of her public spirit, as well as his, is per- 
petuated in the edifice and the endowments 
of the School of the Fine Arts, in Yale 
University. 

A grand-daughter of William Leffing- 
well, Caroline Augusta Street, was the wife 
of Admiral Foote ; and thus the old man- 
sion, built by Jared Ingersoll before the 
Revolution, and in later times, the resi- 
dence of Admiral Foote, came to be 
known by (he name of the gallant admiral. 

Those who knew Mrs. Leffingwell long 
afterward when she had become a grand- 
mother, and especially those who were 
acquainted with her housekeeping, can- 
not but understand that the supper o 
Tuesday night, and the dinner of Wednes- 
day were not only well got up,"everything 
in nice order," but were enlivened by and 
brightened by her sprightly talk. We may 
be sure that she, the daughter of the famed 
New Haven bookseller, Isaac Beers, and 
from her early girlhood conspicuous 
amonj; the ladies of the college town, 
which did not become a city even in name 
until 1784, had much to say in the pleas- 
ant conversation between her husband and 
her guest, about their college friends and 



DR. MASON FITCH COGSWELL. 



607 



college days. It could not but be a pleas- 
ant party, six at table, all young, four 
gentlemen as well as the hostess over- 
flowing with memories of Yale and New 
Haven, and that " smart girl," Joanna. 
Leffingwell, whose "pleasing countenance" 
retained something of its beauty, and 
whose " expressive eye" had not lost" its 
expressiveness, when I knew her, almost 
half a century later, an honored "mother 
in Israel " the widow of Charles (not 
Daniel) Lathrop. 

The next day (Thursday) was like the 
other days at Norwich ; breakfast with his 
" old friend and good friend Shubael ; " 
"dinner with the Governor and family" at 
Mr. Breed's, where Shubael and his wife 
were also present, and where the inevita- 
ble " pompion pie " suggested the thought 
of how soon he should be beyond the 
reach of that New England dainty ; an 
after-dinner call at Mr. Coit's ; tea at Mr. 
Moore's ; and the evening at Mr. Leffing- 
well's again " in a circle of no less than 
sixteen ladies, besides many other super- 
numeraries." To the record of all this, 
he adds, " About nine, went to my lodg- 
ings, proposed a plan to the Governor, 
and received his approbation, ate supper, 
smoked the calumet for the last time, and 
bade them all a good night." 

On Friday, Dec. 5th, our traveler, having 
taken leave of Norwich friends, journeyed 
toward his father's home, by the somewhat 
meandering way of all his " uncles and 
aunts in Lisbon, Preston, and Canterbury ;" 
and those uncles and aunts, with all the 
cousins, seem to have been the most lov- 
ing and amiable people in the world. 
Arriving at Scotland parsonage again on 
Saturday, he was detained there by a 
storm which gave him time for reading 
and writing, and for " receiving lessons of 
divine instruction from the lips of " his" 
affectionate parent." Wednesday, Dec. 
19th, the weather having become propi- 



tious, he went to Mansfield for the sake 
of visiting two more cousins, whose ami- 
able qualities he sums up by saying, " In 
short, they are two Fitches, which is suffi- 
ciently explanatory to myself." 

From Mansfield, the next day's travel 
brought him to Lebanon again, his solitary 
ride being cheered by the pleasant thought 
that all the relatives whom he has been 
visiting, and who had received him with 
kindliest affection, were so well worth 
knowing. These uncles, aunts, and 
cousins seem to have been fair specimens 
of what I may venture to call the old 
Connecticut gentry, well-to-do people 
living comfortably and honestly on their 
own acres, working six days and resting 
on the seventh according to the command- 
ment, thinking people, whose intellectual 
life was nourished chiefly by the Bible 
and the doctrinal exposition of it from the 
pulpit, men and women whose hereditary 
Puritanism had not vanished into Estheti- 
cism, and who were therefore character- 
ized more by strength of opinions about 
right and wrong than by exquisiteness of 
taste, plain people with no aristocratic 
pretensions, yet gentry as descended from 
ancestors whom they honored, and for 
whose sake they were ready to welcome 
every cousin who did not dishonor the 
stock (the gens) from which they came. 
All the kindred whom our traveling friend 
had visited in Preston, Lisbon, "Canter- 
bury, and Mansfield, were as he proudly 
calls them, " Fitches," and they all knew 
their descent from James Fitch, the 
famous first minister of Norwich. 

At Mrs. Tisdale's, in Lebanon, he had 
another " charming evening with the 
ladies," and yet he took time for a call at 
"Col.Trumbull's, "where he renewed his ac- 
quaintance with Daniel and Harriet Wads- 
worth who had just arrived from Hartford. 
The next morning {Friday, Dec. i2th)he 
walked over to Col. Trumbull's where he 



6o8 



DR. MASON FITCH COGSWELL. 



had promised " to call for letters." The 
post-office system of the United States 
was then in its infancy, and an opportunity 
of sending letters from Lebanon to Hart- 
ford by a friendly traveler was precious. 
After an hour of talk with "the ladies and 
with Daniel " and " some time with the 
colonel," and much delight in the "paint- 
ings of his brother " whom we call Col. 
Trumbull, he set his face toward Hartford 
at about eleven o'clock, " in company," 
he says, "with a Mr. Pitkin from Farming- 
ton, with whom I was so much pleased in 
the daytime, that I went and tarried with 
him at his uncle's in East Hartford, Fede- 
ral to a button, very civil and very hospi- 
table. Crossed the ferry in the morning, 
and dined at Mr. Perkins' with Mr. Pitkin. 
After dinner, called and delivered letters 
from Harriet and Daniel, and engaged to 
return and drink tea with smiling Cate, 
and so I did and was made very welcome 
and very happy." 

The next day being Sunday, our trav- 
eler "attended divine service at the North 
Meeting" and was much impressed with 
the sermons, especially with the afternoon 
discourse from a text which he remem- 
bered as that from which the sermon was 
preached at his own mother's funeral, " I 
was dumb, I opened not my mouth, be- 
cause thou didst it." Mr. Strong was 
then passing through one of the sorrows 
of his domestic life. Already he had 
been once a widower, and his second wife 
Anna McCurdy, was then wasting with the 
disease of which she died three months 
later, at the age of twenty-nine. Naturally 
the sermon from such a text and in such 
circumstances, " flowed from the heart 
and reached the heart, especially of Mason 
F. Cogswell, to whom Anna McCurdy had 
been " an old friend." As evening came 
on, he recollected his "engagement to 
Mrs. Wadsworth and Caty," and had a 
pleasant hour with them. 



On Monday, he was occupied through 
the morning with " how-do-you- do visits 
and some matters of business," but after 
dinner, we find him paying his respects to 
Dr. Hopkins, and " chatting physic with 
him an hour or so," then "galloping out to 
the hill" and rejoicing to find the invalids 
there (of the Talcott family) all better 
than when he saw them last. He " gal- 
lops back again and drinks tea with Mr. 
and Mrs. Wolcott, — a charming couple " 
whose happiness moves him to write, " I 
wish I was as well married, and anybody 
and everybody could say as much of me." 
The Dr. Hopkins with whom he talked on 
professional subjects, was in his day the 
foremost man of the medical profession 
not only in Hartford but, if I mistake not, 
in Connecticut, one of " the Hartford 
wits," if not the most famous of them. 

We may assume, at least we may be 
permitted to conjecture that Dr.Cogswell, 
a young man not yet settled in life, had 
in his thoughts, while talking with Dr. 
Hopkins, the " plan " on which he had 
taken the advice of Gov. Huntington be- 
fore leaving Norwich ; and that his "plan" 
was to establish himself in his profession 
there in Hartford. The Mr. Wolcott 
whose domestic felicity he so admired, 
was Oliver Wolcott, afterwards secretary 
of the treasury under John Adams, and in 
his later years, governor of Connecticut. 

Just here the manuscript begins to be 
again imperfect. Some enterprising mouse 
seems to have meddled with it, and what 
remains of the last few pages is inter- 
spersed with many a hiatus valde deflen- 
dus. I can make out that after tea with 
Mr. and Mrs. Wolcott the diarist " spent 

a social hour with and Julia Seymour, 

certainly a pretty girl, and a good 

one too" that he "called and took 

leave of at Col. Wadsworth's, that 

he was lodged that night at Mr. Strong's 
where he " attended particularly to Mrs. 



DR. MASON FITCH COGSWELL. 



609 



Strong's case and had a long and friendly 
conversation with her husband, pondering 
meanwhile (we may conjecture) the ques- 
tion of making his abode in Hartford, I 
find him proceeding on the next day to 
Haddam, and there "welcomed very sin- 
cerely by Theodore and Parson May and 
family " — thence, after a day's detention 
by storm, he comes to New Haven again, 
and finds the same hospitality which he 
had found four weeks before. 

The last date on these torn leaves is 
Saturday, Dec. 19th. On that day, after 
" several morning visits " — additional to 
all the visits of the preceding day, he rode 
to Greenfield via Stratford, Victory, etc. 
It was seven o'clock in the evening, when 
he arrived at the house of the pastor, who 
was also the poet of " Greenfield Hill." 
He found himself " in the midst of a 
smiling circle ; " and the talk by the win- 
ter evening fireside was cheerful and in- 
structive. I can make out concerning 
the "four young ladies under Mr.Dwight's 
tuition" that "the expression of each 
was uncommonly fine — a loveliness of 
disposition, a benevolence of heart, and a 
sprightliness of thought were clearly dis- 
cernible in every eye." Here we come 

to a ragged edge. The The last 

words are " If I can judge ■ account 

given of them by Mrs. Dwight, and 

my own they are lovely girls, and 

on the high road to make husbands 

happy." 

This picture of life in the last century, 
a snap shot, so to speak, taken when 
people did not know that any one was 
looking, discloses new charms at every 
reading. 

After we have excepted the powdered 
hair, and the unaffected interest in Sun- 
day worship, which, alas ! is not at all 
characteristic of these days, it is hard to 
realize that these young people are not of 
us to-day. The cultivated manners, the 



ease of intercourse, the unaffected enjoy- 
ment of the pleasures of life, disclose a 
time of leisure and courteous living. 

While many are ransacking every musty 
book of town enactments, and church 
records, to prove that our ancestors led a 
treadmill existence under the clouds of 
bigotry and severity, harassed by a super- 
stitious dread of a Deity robed in terrors, 
and by the present fear of harsh and strait- 
laced magistrates, we may read this cheer- 
ful account of dancing, music, and singing, 
balls and teas, all enjoyed by the mini- 
ster's son without any reproach, and in the 
midst of families whose social position 
was beyond question. Probably more 
genuine pleasure was enjoyed by young 
people in those days than now, for the 
leading families were still grouped near 
enough each other for the exercise of free 
hospitality among all the members of the 
"clans," and an intimate knowledge of each 
other and an affectionate interest were re- 
tained, which, with a certain quality in the 
conditions of life, made social intercourse 
satisfying without all the feverish effort to 
secure novel pleasures which is seen 
now. 

And what shall be said of the extraor- 
dinary prevalence of'pompion pie " at 
that period? Evidently, cut-worms and 
other enemies of the delicious vegetable 
had not then gained an ascendency. And 
we must lament the vanishing of the dig- 
nified name " pompion " behind the un- 
couth "pumpkin." 

Dr. Bacon's running commentary adds 
much to the value and lucidity of the 
text. It may be well to explain that Dr. 
Bacon married Miss Catherine Terry, the 
daughter of the Catherine Wadsworth, 
afterwards Mrs. Terry, who appears in the 
diary as the good-hearted younger sister, 
a circumstance which makes all the more 
remarkable the return to Dr. Bacon of 
the manuscript. 



6ro 



DR. MASON FITCH COGSWELL. 



Interesting as is this glimpse of " early 
days in Connecticut " for its inherent 
value, the diary gains in meaning when it 
is read in the light of the subsequent 
career of its writer. This genial and 
gifted young man, the always welcome 
guest, had not been idle in the years 
before this visiting time. 

Born in 1761, he was a Yale graduate 
in 1780, and although the youngest in a 
class which included such men as Matthew 
and Roger Griswold and other able men, 
he was the valedictorian. 

As has been said, he had an elder 
brother, James, who had been a surgeon 
in the Revolutionary army, and had after- 
wards practiced in New York. Mason 
Cogswell was with him in that place, and 
studied surgery and medicine. For 
several years he was in Stamford, where 
he made important and lasting friends. 
His musical gifts were of notable use in 
Stamford ; for it is related that he not 
only instructed the church choir of that 
place in the common psalm-tunes, but 
also in an anthem or other piece of set 
music for every Sabbath in the year. It 
is easy to imagine that the attractions of 
the young choir-master made the exercises 
of "singing-school" especially delightful 
to the Stamford beaux and belles. 

As may be seen, a thought for the 
serious business of life constantly lurked 
beneath the pleasures of the trip ; and as 
a result of the discussions mentioned in 
the diary, Dr. Cogswell came to Hartford 
as a practicing physician in 1789. 

At all events, Dr. Cogswell became one 
of the foremost surgeons of his day. and 
was revered and loved by all who came 
under his influence. His skill, his devo- 
ted attention to his patients, his sympathy 
with the sick, his compassion for all forms 
of suffering, earned for him again and 
again the name of the " beloved physi- 
cian." 



When the Retreat for the Insane was 
established in Hartford, Dr. Cogswell was 
one of the leading supporters of the 
scheme. 

His professional reputation was not 
without foundation. In 1803, he per- 
formed the operation of tying the carotid 
artery, which, although now common, had 
never been attempted in this country. A 
year before, it had been done in London 
by Mr. Abernethy, and at about the same 
time, once on the Continent ; but Dr. 
Cogswell could not have known it, and 
he thus deserved all the credit of a 
pioneer. He also introduced to America 
the removal of cataract from the eye. 

As was the custom of the time, he often 
received students of medicine, and he was 
deemed so efficient an instructor that he 
was asked to take the chair of surgery in 
the Yale Medical School. For various 
reasons that offer was at last declined. 

His wife had sad memories of the 
Revolution ; for she was the daughter of 
that Colonel William Ledyard who was 
slain with his own sword in the act of 
surrender at Groton. The blood-stained 
waist-coat may still be seen in the histori- 
cal collection at the Wadsworth Atheneum 
in Hartford which was founded by the 
very Daniel Wadsworth who appears as a 
youth in the foregoing diary. But Mary 
Ledyard brought grace and courtesy to 
the Cogswell house on Prospect street, 
and the mansion became a center of 
culture and refined life. Dr. Cogswell's 
library was one of the best in the state ; 
he was still an ardent lover of music ; and 
his poetry was of no small repute in his 
time. He was noble in mien and careful 
in his dress, always wearing the silk 
stockings and knee-breeches of the old 
time, saying that it was the only proper 
dress for a gentleman. 

But, amid all the pleasure of this home, 
enriched by happiness within and honor 



DR. MASON FITCH COGSWELL. 



6n 



without, there appeared the " spot of 
evil," a touch of the blight that falls, 
sooner or later, on all human bliss. 

The third and youngest daughter, born 
in 1805, the bright and pretty Alice, 
when a little more than two years old, 
became ill with " spotted fever," now 
called cerebro-spiral-meningitis. She was 
brought back to health, but soon she 
failed to notice the song of the birds or 
the voices of her friends. She was deaf. 

Months passed on, and the usual re- 
sult followed — the prattle of baby talk 
ceased, and only inarticulate, gurgling 
sounds came from her lips. The sweet 
child was a deaf mute. 

Of course everything that fondness 
and intelligence could suggest to soften 
the calamity, and to mitigate its con- 
sequences, was done ; but there was 
little to do, for the idea of teaching 
deaf-mutes was almost unknown in this 
country. With unspeakable pain, Dr. 
Cogswell saw the little girl lapsing into 
ignorance, with no prospect of devel- 
oping the natural gifts which were 
evidently hers. 

But he read of the wonderful success 
in teaching mutes in France and Eng- 
land, and there was a gleam of hope 
in the resolve which arose within him 
to secure such benefits for his child. 

Thus it was that the name of Alice 
Cogswell became indissolubly connect- 
ed with the establishment of a famous 
philanthropic enterprise. The question 
arose, should Alice be sent to Europe for 
instruction, or could that instruction be 
brought to her? 

Of course, the latter was desirable, so 
Dr. Cogswell applied himself, with the 
tact and good-humor, and energy which 
have appeared in the diary, to interesting 
the community in the education of the 
deaf. People said that it was useless, 
and that there were not enough deaf- 



mutes to be worthy of consideration. 
The answer to the first was in the work 
already done abroad ; to the second a 
reply was given by applying for statistics 
to the General Association of Congrega- 
tional Clergymen, which met at Sharon, in 
June, 1812. That was in the governorship 
of John Cotton Smith, and I like to think 
of this preliminary discussion of a great 
enterprise and charity as taking place 
within the spacious rooms of that fi"e old 




c 



PA^«^i^^ 




monument of the colonial builder's taste 
and skill, the John Cotton Smith house. 

The Association informed Dr. Cogswell 
of eighty-four deaf and dumb persons then 
living within the borders of Connecticut. 
In that proportion, there must have been 
about four hundred in the New England 
states, and about two thousand in the 
the whole country. 

Evidently, Dr. Cogswell's ministrations 
to the suffering brought a rich harvest 
when he was in need of help, for he 



6t2 



DR. MASON FITCH COGSWELL. 



quickly succeeded in arousing the desired 
zeal among his influential friends, and on 
April 13, 1815, some of them were in- 
vited to meet at his house to discuss send- 
ing some one abroad to study methods 
and to bring home the knowledge neces- 
sary for carrying on a school for the deaf 
and dumb. The names have been pre- 
served : "Ward Woodbridge, Esq , Daniel 
Wadsworth, Esq., Henry Hudson, Esq., 
Hon. Nathaniel Terry, John Caldwell, 
Esq., Daniel Buck, Esq., Joseph Battell, 
Esq. (of Norfolk), Rev. Nathan Strong, 
D. D., and Rev. Thomas H. Gallaudet." 

The committee appointed by these 
gentlemen to select an envoy, and collect 
the means for his expenses, consisted of Dr. 
Cogswell, and Mr. Ward Woodbridge, the 
latter being a prominent man in business 
circles. Hartford citizens responded so 
heartily to the call that in one day Mr. 
Woodbridge received subscriptions suffi- 
cient to defray the expenses of the mission. 

That old subscription list is very char- 
acteristic of persons and places then and 
there. Sometimes you see the proof of 
personal friendship ; sometimes of an 
especial effort aroused by an especial 
appeal, and again of the broad generosity 
of rich men who were ready to give to 
every good object. 

Mr. Gallaudet and Dr. Cogswell sub- 
scribed largely — we can understand that 
real affection lay behind the sums given 
by " Lydia Huntley" and "Miss Lydia 
Huntley's School." There, too, is the 
name of Leonard Bacon, into whose hands 
the diary afterwards came — the Rev. 
Benoni Upson of the village of Berlin 
gave of his store one hundred dollars, 
Gov. John Cotton Smith showed in like 
manner the effect of the talk in Sharon, 
and there is the name so familiar as that 
of a generous giver, Joseph Battell, of 
Norfolk. The largest individual subscrip- 
tion from Hartford was that of Daniel 



Wadsworth, and the next in value was by 
Chauncey Deming, of the neighboring 
village of Farmington, then one of the 
richest towns in the state. In fact among 
the churches of Connecticut, that of 
Farmington kept step with the cities, 
being barely exceeded by one in New 
Haven. And the scattered families of 
East Windsor were moved to great 
generosity. In curious sequence is the 
fact that from that town came one of the 
oldest and foremost instructors of mutes, 
one who at the persuasion of Dr. Gallaudet 
gave the zeal and devotion of his life to 
the work — Professor David Ely Bartlett. 
We can see the evidence of the family 
interest in Norwich, too. When the 
subscription was extended to Massachu- 
setts, the list showed such names as 
Parkman, Appleton, Channing, Sears, 
Shaw, and Phillips. The state of Penn- 
sylvania sent its contribution to the cause 
by Richard Paxton. In New York, few 
gave because there was a desire to have a 
separate school there, but among the few 
John Jacob Astorwas prominent. Appar- 
ently, Albany was deeply interested, 
Stephen Van Rensselaer leading. Several 
schools in New Jersey sent their gifts, and 
there is a record of fifty cents from " a 
little girl." We hope that she was always 
blessed with means for gratifying her 
charitable impulses so early shown. And 
in other lands, from France to the Isle of 
Trinidad, kind hearts were touched. 
Among the English givers were " Mrs. 
Hannah More," and Zachary Macaulay, 
the great promoter of the abolition of 
slavery in the English colonies, and the 
father of Lord Macaulay. 

And now, the way having been prepared, 
who should go on this errand? Several 
friends had endeavored to impart some 
instruction to the speechless Alice, among 
them the gifted poet of Hartford, Lydia 
Huntley, afterwards Mrs. Sigourney, and 



DR. MASON FITCH COGSWELL. 



613 



all were sure that a bright mind lay be- 
hind the bars of silence. Mrs. Sigourney 
afterwards wrote a charming sketch of the 
character and the early school days of her 
famous pupil, and published it in " Letters 
to My Pupils." 

Of all these friends and teachers, the 
young clergyman, Thomas Gailaudet, a 
graduate of Yale and Andover, had been 
most successful in establishing communi- 
cation by signs. He was a neighbor, and 
while at home on a vacation, he made his 
first effort in teaching a deaf mute. He 
saw the little girl at play with other chil- 
dren, in his father's garden, and taking 
much interest in her, he succeeded, in 
that first lesson, in teaching her that the 
written word " hat " meant the very arti- 
cle of head-gear which he held in his hand. 
From that he had gradually gone on to 
some simple sentences. 

Mr. Gailaudet was asked to undertake 
the enterprise in question ; he accepted, 
promising to " visit Europe for the sake 
of qualifying himself to become a teacher 
of the deaf and dumb in this country." 
He brought back with him, after some 
months, a French mute of scholarly train- 
ing and noble character, a professor in the 
French institution, Laurent Clerc. The 
career of each of these men in their special 
field of well-doing is well-known. 

In M. Clerc's account of his coming to 
the United States, he says, " We alighted 
at Dr. Cogswell's in Prospect street. 
Alice was immediately sent for, and when 
she made her appearance, I beheld a very 
interesting little girl. She had one of the 
most intelligent countenances that I ever 
saw. I had left many persons and objects 
in France endeared to me by association 
—and I sometimes regretted leaving my 
native land ; but on seeing Alice, I had 
only to recur to the object which had in- 
duced me to seek these shores, and sadness 
was subdued by an approving conscience." 



During Mr. Gallaudet's absence the 
proper business was transacted, and thus 
was incorporated, in 1816, in Hartford, 
the " Connecticut Asylum for the educa- 
tion of deaf and dumb persons," the first 
institution of the kind in this country. 
The name was afterwards changed to the 
"American Asylum for the Deaf. 

Little Alice Cogswell was the first pupil, 
and in 181 7, it was formally opened with 
a class of three, increasing in three days 
to seven, in the south part of the building 
afterwards known as the City Hotel. A 
great crowd assembled on the following 
Sunday evening in the Center Church, to 
hear Mr. Gailaudet preach from the text, 
"Then the eyes of the blind shall be 
opened, and the ears of the deaf unstop- 
ped. Then shall the lame man leap as a 
hart, and the tongue shall sing, etc." 
The seven unhearing pupils were there, 
little knowing what hopes were fixed on 
their new opportunity for progress, and 
undoubtedly trying to make good use of 
their eyes, and wondering why they had 
suddenly become the center of observa- 
tion. In a little more than a year, the 
number of pupils had increased to between 
fifty and sixty ; soon the New England 
states arranged to share the benefits and 
to contribute towards the expenses of the 
new institution, which was attracting 
scholars from all over the Union ; and in 
a few years, teachers had gone out from it 
to establish other schools for the deaf and 
dumb in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Kentucky 
and other states, so that the Hartford 
school has been the parent of that illus- 
trious family of American schools for the 
deaf which are "universally acknowledged 
to be the best of their kind." 

Such have been some of the beneficient 
and ever-increasing results of the life in 
Hartford of our young traveler. 

Besides Alice, his children were, Mary 
(Mrs. Lewis Weld), Elizabeth (Mrs. John 



614 



INSPIRA TION. 



T. Norton of Farmington), Mason F. 
Cogswell, M. D. of Albany, and Catharine 
Ledyard(Mrs. Cortlandt Van Rensselaer.) 
He died of pneumonia, December 17, 
1830, in the seventieth year of his age. 
Dr. Bacon says, 'The illness which ended 
his life was short — only five days, yet long 
enough for the whole city to be moved 
with anxiety. I am informed by one who 
lived in the immediate neighborhood, 
that late in the evening of the two days 
preceding his death, people stood in 
groups along the sidewalks of Prospect 
street, waiting for the physicians to come 
from his bedside, and asking in whispers 
for the latest indications." Miss Catherine 
Beecher's words in a letter expressed the 
general sentiment : " He is gone, our 
friend — our adviser — our help and com- 
forter both in sickness and health:— it 



would seem as if the whole place were in 
tears at his death ; there is scarcely a 
family that does not feel that it has not 
lost a friend." To Alice, the darling of 
her father, this grief was a death-blow. 
For thirteen days she survived, shaken in 
body and mind by the loss of one who 
had been the unfailing support and pro- 
tection of her maimed life. As she said, 
'•Her heart had grown so close to her 
father's that they could not be separated." 
In her melancholy wanderings she asked, 
" Is it David's harp I hear? " and again , 
exclaimed "Oh, when I arrive at Heaven's 
gate, how my father will hold out his arms 
to take me to his bosom ! " 

Such are some of the things that may 
be read between the lines of the faded 
diary written in 1787. 



INSPIRATION. 



BY HERBERT RANDALL. 



To walk with Nature hand in hand, 
A heart attuned in thee 

To stormy-wind, the skylark's song, 
Or cadence of the sea ; 

To feel the soul upmount to where 
The trembling pleiads shine, — 

This is to leave the finite world 
And live with the Divine. 






24401 

Accession no. 

Author Cogswell: 
Extracts from the 
diary . . . 
[1900] 

Call no. Biog . 



f 



1900 








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